There are few things in life harder than losing a family member. I think parents who lose a child top that list. I can’t imagine that pain. Losing a sibling or a spouse has to rank high on the list as well. Losing a parent would then round out the top 3 in my world. Only for some of us, because I know I’m not alone in this, losing the same parent twice is just plain devastating. Divorce does that to some of us.
When I was 16 my parents divorced after 21 years of marriage. At the time, I was stoic. I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel hurt I guess because I was too confused. My dad had not been an active part of my life and so his departure didn’t mean much to the 16 yr old me. Over the years my stoic self turned into a very angry self. I was angry at my dad. I was angry because everyone else was angry. I was angry because I thought I was supposed to be angry. I was angry because my mom was hurt and that should be reason enough for anyone to be angry, right? I was angry because I started to see where my father had let me down, and just how important he was to me.
When I reached my 40s I realized that, although I had already started to bridge that gap with my father, it was time for me to really lay it on the table for him and let him know where I stood. So on the phone one afternoon, I let him know that I had lived many years not really knowing if I was angry, sad, or just what emotion was there but that I was in a place to just forgive. I let my dad know that I forgave him for all the things that had made me feel angry, sad, alone or abandoned. I let go of all that “stuff” and I told him I loved him. I hadn’t said those words to him in many years. From that day on, we started to forge a new relationship; one built on a mutual understanding of hurt and forgiveness. He embraced my children with enthusiasm and joy that took my by surprise. I loved sharing with him the accomplishments and the pitfalls of parenting these 2 beautiful children. He supported. He sympathised. He encouraged. He was my Dad. After all those years, I had my Dad. And I loved it.
3 days ago I lost him, again. This time no phone call can patch things up. His heart stopped. He is gone forever from my life. Right now, I hurt. I think of him and his cheerful voice on the other end of the phone each and every single time I called.
Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a parent. Not even a long illness. Because in the end, there are still so many things to say. But I can rest assured that I spoke peace into my father’s life by laying down the hurt and anger that I carried (even if I didn’t know why I carried it) and telling him I loved him. He spoke peace into my life too by loving me in spite of myself. His blood runs through my veins. His memory will live on in my heart forever.
Rest in eternal peace, Dad. I love you.